Exclusive: LEGO Star Wars UCS Republic Gunship ‘deep in development’

In an exclusive interview, Brick Fanatics finds out how the LEGO Star Wars team is developing the upcoming Republic Gunship for the Ultimate Collector Series

For the first time since 2010, the LEGO Star Wars theme is taking on a prequel trilogy design in the Ultimate Collector Series (UCS). In a fan poll to select the next set in the super-detailed collection, the Republic Gunship beat out the classic trilogy’s Nebulon-B Escort Frigate and TIE Bomber.

To find out how the development of this upcoming set is going, Brick Fanatics sat down with LEGO Star Wars Design Director Jens Kronvold Frederiksen and Designer Manager Michael Lee Stockwell during the LEGO Group’s Fan Media Days, hosted digitally at the end of May.

The LEGO Group recently sought fan feedback via a LEGO Ideas poll for the new Ultimate Collector Series set. Was the response what you expected?

Jens: It was a little bit of a surprising result but we are really happy. It was interesting to see what the response was. More than 40,000 people responded – it’s the biggest reply, as far as I know, in any poll at the LEGO Group.

Development on LEGO Ideas sets often starts before the set is approved. Was any development done on the Republic Gunship before it won?

Michael: We are knee deep in development now.

Jens: To be quite honest we didn’t have anything before the poll, we had done a little bit of thinking on the Nebulon-B and also on the TIE Bomber – but that was more coincidence. I would say the Nebulon was more to be sure we could deliver it, because of the structure. We were very much in doubt if it was at all possible to make at that size, so we were experimenting a little bit.

But with the Gunship we were sure we could do it and we hadn’t started any work. Our development side takes time at LEGO, so we hope that people will just be a little bit patient. It is going to happen, but we can’t mention the launch date yet.

Michael: We’re hard at work, definitely.

Star Wars Republic Gunship

LEGO Star Wars: The five largest sets

Are there any considerations in the design of this particular model? It is quite different to what has come before in the UCS series.

Michael: Every time we work at that scale we are presented with a whole realm of new challenges. There seems to be a greater problem to overcome when you have wings the size of that Gunship. So there are a lot of structural things – that’s usually where the biggest challenges are. We are usually quite confident we can achieve something that is aesthetically pleasing, but there needs to be a sound structure and good building flow.

Jens: The finished models must be very, very high quality because when you are buying a product that costs $200, $300, $600 or something, we want to absolutely deliver a premium experience.

Michael: Then we have to do a lot of testing with things. Sometimes we ask people at the office who have absolutely no part in the design process whatsoever to pick up and move the model, because we’re interested in how somebody who doesn’t have any ‘respect’ for the product is going to move this from the shelf to the table.

They end up putting their hands in a position that we never really anticipated and that could end up with the model breaking into pieces. We get used to handling the model, so if I touch these two particular places nothing breaks, but you need someone else to also handle it in other ways.

Read more from Brick Fanatics at Fan Media Days 2020

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Graham was the BrickFanatics.com Editor up until November 2020. He has plenty of experience working on LEGO related projects. He has contributed to various websites and publications on topics including niche hobbies, the toy industry and education. Follw Graham on Twitter @grahamh100.

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